How To Install WordPress Plugins Via The WordPress Dashboard

Learn how to install and active plugins on your WordPress site via the WordPress dashboard.

How To Install WordPress PluginsBecause WordPress is distributed as free Open Source software, its code can be extensively modified and customized by software developers to create an almost unlimited number of functional applications, add-ons, and enhancements to the software.

These applications are called plugins. Plugins provide additional functionality for your WordPress site and most work seamlessly and natively with the WordPress platform. Thousands of free or low-cost WordPress plugins are available to help expand the functionality of your WordPress site. Best of all, most plugins will instantly extend, enhance, and add new capabilities to your WordPress site with only a couple of clicks and no technical skills required to configure or use these.

If there’s something you want your WordPress site to do, the chances are that someone has probably already created a plugin that will do this for you.

To learn more about WordPress Plugins, see the tutorial below:

To learn about many useful and essential WordPress Plugins, see the training module below:

In this tutorial, you will learn how to install and activate WordPress plugins from your WordPress dashboard using various plugin installation methods.

How To Install WordPress Plugins

As you will see shortly in the section below, there are several options for uploading and installing free plugins automatically in WordPress, whereas installing paid plugins is normally done by manually downloading the plugin from the vendor’s site to your hard drive first, and then uploading and installing it on your site using the Upload method described below.

How To Install WordPress Plugins Via The WordPress Dashboard: Tutorial

Log into your WordPress admin section, then scroll down your WordPress admin menu and click on Plugins > Add New

Plugins Menu - Add New

(Plugins Menu – Add New)

You will be taken to the ‘Add Plugins’ area …

Add Plugins section

(Add Plugins screen)

You can also access the ‘Add Plugins’ screen by clicking on Plugins > Installed Plugins …

Plugins Menu - Installed Plugins

(WordPress Plugins Menu – Installed Plugins)

And clicking on Plugins > Add New …

Plugins - Add New

(Plugins – Add New)

There are several ways you can install WordPress plugins automatically on your site:

  • Upload method
  • Search method
  • Featured method
  • Popular method
  • Recommended method
  • Favorites method

Add Plugins section options

(Add Plugins screen options)

Let’s go through each of the plugin installation options available on this screen.

How To Install WordPress Plugins – Upload Method

If using the Upload method, make sure that you have downloaded a zipped version of the WordPress plugin you are planning to install on your site. This can either be a free WordPress plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory or a premium plugin that you have purchased from a plugin vendor online …

Make sure that you have the plugin you plan to upload to WordPress ready

(Make sure that you have the plugin you plan to upload to WordPress ready)

help If you need a file compression and extraction utility (to create and extract zip files), go here:

redarrow WinZip

After downloading the WordPress plugin file to your hard drive, you can upload and install it on your site using the built-in Upload feature in WordPress.

Go to the ‘Add Plugins’ screen and click on Upload Plugin in the top menu section …

Add Plugins - Upload Plugin

(Add Plugins – Upload Plugin)

Click on ‘Choose File’ …

Add Plugins - File Uploader

(Add Plugins – Choose File)

Select the file you want to upload to your WordPress site and click Open

Use the file uploader to locate your plugin file

(Use the file uploader to locate your plugin file)

After your file has been uploaded to WordPress, click Install Now

Add Plugins - Install Now

(Add Plugins – Install Now)

If your upload is successful, you will see a ‘Plugin installed successfully” message …

Your plugin has installed successfully!

(Your plugin has installed successfully!)

Important

If the plugin file already exists in your WordPress plugins folder, you will get a “Plugin install failed” message …

Plugin Installation Failed

(Plugin Installation Failed)

The plugin file may already exist in your WordPress plugins folder because:

  • It was previously installed, and
  • The plugin may have been deactivated, but its files have not been removed.

To learn how to delete a plugin, see the tutorial below:

Once your plugin has been successfully installed, click on the Activate Plugin link to enable it …

Activate Plugin

(Activate Plugin)

Your plugin is now active …

Plugin Activated

(Plugin Activated)

You can also activate a plugin by going into the ‘Plugin’ section and clicking on the Activate link in the menu displayed below the plugin name …

Activate Plugin

(Activate Plugin)

How To Install A WordPress Plugin – Search Method

You can search free WordPress plugins listed in the WordPress Plugin Directory and install them in WordPress using the Search method. It helps if you know what plugin you are looking for, otherwise just type in a general search phrase or keyword.

Useful Tip

If you search for plugins in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, you can narrow down your search further using filters (Keyword, Author, Tag) …

WordPress.org - Filtered Plugin Search

(WordPress.org – Filtered Plugin Search)

If searching for plugins inside the WordPress dashboard, go to the ‘Add Plugins’ screen. The Search Plugins option is located next to all of the other installation options …

Add Plugins - Search Method

(Add Plugins – Search Method)

Type a search term into the Search field and hit Enter …

Enter your search term to find a plugin

(Enter your search term to find a plugin)

Find the plugin you would like to install from the ‘Search Results’ list and click on the Install Now button to install the plugin into your WordPress site …

Add Plugins - Search Results

(Add Plugins – Search Results)

The plugin will begin to install. After your plugin has installed successfully, click on Activate Plugin to enable the plugin …

Install and activate your plugin

(Install and activate your plugin)

Useful Information

Finding and installing WordPress plugins using the Featured, Popular, Recommended, and Favorites methods all follow the same process.

Let’s take a look at these plugin installation methods …

How To Install A WordPress Plugin – Featured Method

You can install plugins on your WordPress site using the Featured method. The Featured method is selected by default when you arrive on the Add Plugins screen …

Add Plugins - Featured Plugins

(Add Plugins – Featured Plugins)

A list of featured plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory is returned in your screen. Locate the plugin you want to install and click on the Install Now button to install the plugin on your WordPress site. Follow the process described earlier to activate your plugin.

How To Install WordPress Plugins – Popular Method

You can install plugins on your WordPress site using the Popular option. Go to the ‘Add Plugins’ section and click on Popular from the options menu …

Add Plugins - Popular Plugins

(Add Plugins – Popular Plugins)

A list of plugins voted by users as being the most popular on the WordPress Plugin Directory is returned in your screen. Locate the plugin you want to install and click on the Install Now button to install the plugin on your WordPress site. Follow the process described earlier to activate your plugin.

How To Install WordPress Plugins – Recommended Method

You can install plugins on your WordPress site using the Recommended option. Go to the ‘Add Plugins’ section and click on Recommended from the options menu

Add Plugins - Recommended Plugins

(Add Plugins – Recommended Plugins)

A list of suggested plugins that other WordPress users have installed on their sites is returned in your screen. Select the plugin you want to install and click on the Install Now button to install the plugin on your WordPress site. Follow the process described earlier to activate your plugin.

How To Install A WordPress Plugin – Favorites Method

You can install “Favorite” plugins into your WordPress site using this option. The Favorites feature allows WordPress users to share their favorite free WordPress plugins with other users …

Add Plugins - Favorites

(Add Plugins – Favorites)

Practical Tip

The Favorites feature is useful if you perform multiple WordPress installations, as it allows you to access all of the plugins you would normally add to each new WordPress installation you perform.

To access this feature, you must have an account set up with WordPress.

To set up a Free WordPress account, go here:

Once you have set up your WordPress account, you will be able to log into the WordPress.org site …

(Set up a free account at WordPress.org)

Once you’re logged into your WordPress.org account, click on My Favorites

WordPress.org - My Favorites

(WordPress.org – My Favorites)

This will take you to your Profile area …

WordPress.org - Your Profile section

(WordPress.org – Your Profile area)

While you are logged into the WordPress.org site, you will see a ‘Favorited’ link displayed below the download buttons of all plugins listed in the WordPress Plugins directory …

Installing WordPress Plugins

Click on the ‘Favorited’ links of the plugins (and themes) you like …

Favorite any plugins you like

(Favorite any plugins you like)

This adds the plugin to the ‘Favorites’ section in your WordPress.org profile …

Your Favorite Plugins

(Your Favorited Plugins)

As you add more favorited plugins, these will get added to your profile …

Your Favorites

(Your Favorites)

Once you have favorited plugins in your WordPress.org account, you (and anyone else) can access these plugin, by going to Add Plugins > Favorites, entering your (or another user’s) WordPress.org username, and clicking the ‘Get Favorites’ button …

Add Plugins - Get Favorites

(Add Plugins – Get Favorites)

This returns a list of all plugins that you or someone else has marked as a “Favorite” in the WordPress Plugin Directory …

Favorite WordPress Plugins

(Favorite WordPress Plugins)

Select the plugin you want to install and click on the Install Now button to install the plugin on your WordPress site. Follow the process described earlier to activate your plugin.

Useful Tip

For a list of our favorite free WordPress plugins, log into your WordPress dashboard, go to Add Plugins > Favorites and enter username wptrainme into the username field.

Activating Multiple Plugins

If you have installed several plugins in a row but have not activated these yet, you can activate these all at once.

To activate multiple plugins simultaneously, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins …

Plugins Menu - Installed Plugins

(Plugins Menu – Installed Plugins)

Click on the ‘Inactive’ link on the menu at the top of your screen …

Plugins - Inactive

(Plugins – Inactive)

Click on the main checkbox next to the ‘Plugin’ column header to select all plugins at once (deselect individual plugins that you do not want to activate), or individually select plugins that you would like to activate …

Select All Plugins

(Select All Plugins)

In the Bulk Actions drop-down menu, select Activate (1) and then click Apply (2) …

Bulk Actions Menu - Activate and Apply

(Bulk Actions Menu – Activate and Apply)

Your selected plugins will be activated …

Selected plugins activated

(Selected plugins activated)

Congratulations! Now that you know how to install and activate plugins from your WordPress administration area, there is no limit to how far you can extend and enhance the functionality of your WordPress site.

Discover great plugins that will help to extend the functionality of your WordPress site and learn how to install, configure, and use essential WordPress plugins in this training module:

How To Install WordPress Plugins

(Source: Pixabay)

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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WordPress Plugins Explained

This tutorial explains what WordPress plugins are, how plugins work and how plugins help WordPress users extend their website’s functionality. 

WordPress Plugins - Enhancing Your Blog's CapabilitiesOne of the most useful benefits of the WordPress software is that you can quickly expand your WP website or blog’s functionality using plugins.

Understanding WP Plugins

Like most of us, you probably own a device like a smart phone. What happens when you want access to something new on your device like a new game or tool?

Why, simple … you download and install an app!

An app is a software that is simple and easy to install and integrates new features into any mobile phone.

A Beginner's Guide To WP Plugins

(Just as you will find social sharing apps for mobile phones …)

A plugin is really similar to an app. You simply download and install a little piece of software that provides new functionality to your WP web site …

A Guide To WP Plugins

(… there are also social sharing plugins for WordPress sites!)

Typically, if you want to expand the functionality of an existing site, additional cost is involved. Depending on the complexity of the new features or enhancement, things could get fairly expensive, particularly if web developers need to add new code or edit programs or install programs that integrate with your current site.

This also applies to starting a new website. Many organizations tend to invest money in advance in features and customizations they may simply not need.

To reduce unnecessary expenses, we recommend a cost-effective strategy to growing a online presence presence and WordPress plugins are ideal for helping you achieve this.

Imagine if you could:

1) Start simply and inexpensively. Get a basic, professional-looking web site up and running quickly, then …

2) As the need arises, add new applications with a couple of mouse clicks that integrate seamlessly with your existing site, and give your website an entirely new range of practical features and capabilities, and also …

3) Cost not one cent more to install on your website?

Well, this is precisely what a WordPress plugin enables you to do!

Benefits And Advantages Of Using Plugins

Earlier, we compared WP plugins with smartphone apps. In the same way that some apps are free to download and some may cost a little bit of money, the same is true for WP plugins.

In fact, many wonderful plugins can be installed and activated on your websites.

WP plugins that cost money are referred to as Premium plugins. The good news, is that when compared to the cost of hiring a professional web developer to get similar features and functionality on your site, most Premium plugins cost very little.

Also, as WordPress makes its code publicly available, anyone can create, modify and customize any part of the WordPress code. This has allowed many third-party software development professionals to create more new applications that “plug into” the WordPress application than you can probably imagine.

  • WP plugins allow you to start simply with a basic web presence and expand as necessary.
  • Plugins allow you to add almost endless features to your website quickly and really inexpensively.
  • Plugins give you practically endless expansion capabilities.
  • WP plugins allow ”non-techies” to have a site that they can self-manage.
  • Most plugins will typically work “right out of the box” and only require installation and activation to provide your website or blog with instant new capabilities and enhancements.
  • Some plugins offer more extensive options and may require some initial configuring.

WordPress Plugins – Powerful, Flexible … And (Often) Completely FREE!

Like many WP themes, thousands of great WordPress plugins are currently available for WP users … and many of these great plugins are 100% FREE!

You can download thousands of plugins from the Free WordPress Plugin Directory

A Practical Guide To WordPress Plugins

As mentioned earlier, you will find WordPress plugins that will do almost everything you can possibly need a website to do.

Plugin categories cover:

  • Site Management
  • Content Management
  • Web Traffic Generation
  • User Engagement
  • Social Sharing
  • Managing Media Files – Videocasts, Graphics, Podcasts, Multimedia, etc.
  • e-Commerce And Online Sales And Marketing Automation
  • Increasing Sales & Opt-In Conversions And Lead Generation
  • Data And System Monitoring & Reporting Applications
  • Website Optimization

You can enhance a website with plugins like:

  • Contact forms
  • Quizzes and polls
  • User Surveys
  • Managing ad banners
  • E-commerce (from managing single sales with PayPal buttons, to full scale e-commerce stores with online shopping carts, invoicing, recurring billing, coupon codes, etc …)
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Private Membership sites
  • List-building opt-in forms
  • Sales funnels
  • Mobile conversion
  • Improving your site’s SEO
  • Image galleries (including rotating images, lightboxes, etc.)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Instant language translation (e.g. you can instantly change all content on your site from English to Portuguese)
  • Statistical reporting (e.g. number of visitors, pages visited, keywords searched, etc.)
  • Custom navigation
  • Customer interactivity – contest, live chat, currency conversion, etc.
  • Media management
  • Faster page loading
  • Event management
  • Niche directories
  • Automatically sell spots on your site
  • Set up appointments and appointment reminders
  • Help customers make reservations and bookings
  • Detect broken hyperlinks and send you reports
  • Redirect web links
  • Monitor social signals
  • Make your pages available for printing or downloading as PDF
  • Add sitemaps
  • Exclude specific from displaying on areas of your site (e.g. sitemaps, feeds, etc.)
  • Hide post content sections
  • Import information from non-WP platforms
  • Perform bulk content replacements
  • Prevent SPAM commenting
  • Customize guest discussions (e.g. displaying Facebook discussions)
  • Inserting HTML and code elements into your website’s header or footer
  • Add formatted tables
  • Add animated graphics and advanced content formatting options
  • Create and manage QR codes
  • Improve your local search listings on Google
  • Add a map
  • Publicize your content automatically on social pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and others
  • Show countdown timers (for special offers, coupons, etc …)
  • Display custom greetings, timed offers, etc …
  • And so many other features!

As you can clearly see, WP plugins give you practically limitless business flexibility. If you are planning to build a website for your business, or your existing site wasn’t built with WordPress, then consider getting a WP site or blog in the future, or you could be missing out on some serious functionality.

In case you’re still wondering about the power and flexibility of using plugins, let’s take a look at some practical advantages of adding an inexpensive plugin to your web site.

For example, if you need to protect your content, you can install plugins to make just a couple of paragraphs on a post inaccessible, or create a professional membership site with customized login details for every user …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

As mentioned before, free plugins can be used to improve your website in so many different ways. From installing functionality that enhance your business, your visitors’ experience and your understanding of what is taking place on your site …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Plugins

To increasing your business visibility across social media and search engines …

A Useful Guide To Understanding WP Plugins

You can also add sophisticated functionality to your website using relatively inexpensive paid WP plugins. For example, you can install plugins that integrate and automate functionality on your pages like user testimonial and event registration management …

A Useful Guide To WordPress Plugins

And even set up a custom bookings and reservations system on your site … all for a tiny fraction of the cost of paying web developers to create the same functionality for you …

A Non-Technical User's Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also take advantage of built-in WP commenting features and plugins that can make your site even more interactive …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Plugins

For example, your visitors can:

  • Leave comments on your site (which can grow into online discussions) using either the native WP commenting feature, or integrated Facebook comments (which then get displayed throughout a visitors’ Facebook pages, giving your site additional exposure).
  • Bookmark your content on bookmarking sites.
  • Contact you using contact forms
  • Engage online with your team members via online forums or even set up an online social network on your own site.
  • Engage with members of your team via live video chats
  • Call your business from their cellphones when visiting your website
  • Open support tickets
  • And so much more …

A Guide To Understanding WordPress Plugins

You can also integrate complex enterprise solutions using a WP “front end”. This allows you to manage your business marketing, while the 3rd-party application handles the technological aspects …

A Guide To WordPress Plugins

Additional Things You Should Know About WP Plugins

  • There are lots of fantastic plugins available. Be careful of overloading your site with too many plugins, as this will start to affect your website’s performance and site loading speed. It can also create more maintenance issues for you resulting from potential errors.
  • Only keep the plugins you really use. Delete any plugins you don’t need from your site, as these use server resources.
  • Many free plugins typically receive little to no support from the plugin author. When choosing paid plugins, ensure that you do a little research first to understand what kind of reputation the developer has when it comes to providing support, upgrades, new improvements, etc. Be sure to check some of the plugin reviews we publish here for additional information.
  • If you see that a plugin has not been updated for a while (e.g. two years), then think carefully before installing it on your site. WordPress is updated often and older plugins that have not been updated can create problems.
  • Make sure that you always update your plugins to their most recent software version. Outdated plugin not only can create issues, they may also have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious users.

A Guide To WP Plugins

As you can see, plugins are an integral part of WordPress and contribute to making WordPress the most downloaded CMS available. Plugins also provide WordPress users with an easy, simple and inexpensive way to add new features to their website without spending thousands of dollars on web development.

One last thing regarding WordPress plugins:

Whatever feature or functionality you need for your web presence, you can guarantee that a someone has probably already authored one that will do exactly what you need it to do, and that this plugin can either be accessed for FREE, or if it’s a paid plugin, that it will be surprisingly inexpensive.

Whatever you need done, there's a WordPress plugin for that!

(Whatever you need done, there’s a WordPress plugin for that!)

And, if by any chance such a plugin does not exist, then a custom plugin that does exactly what you need it to do can probably be written for your business for a reasonable price.

Hopefully, this information has given you a better understanding of WordPress plugins – what plugins are and how they can significantly expand your web site. See our related posts to learn about more useful plugins that we recommend using.

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